Monday, January 19, 2009

Stop Touching Me!!

Siblings. They are your first test in learning how to get along with others. I recently had a question from a parent about how to get her son to stop touching his brothers inappropriately. I suspected that he was doing it to get their attention as well as his mother's attention. Kids learn to get attention in lots of ways, some of them we would consider bad ways. To them, it's just about getting attention.

You can still see bad attention-getting behavior in adults who haven't learned to get attention any other way. They talk loudly. They shove people. They make off-color jokes.

Best to help your child learn appropriate ways of getting attention so he doesn't become that annoying co-worker, embarrassing spouse or friendless practical jokester.

When the behavior happens, call your child and his siblings over and tell them that their behavior is inappropriate. Then ask them to apologize and tell each other one thing they like about the others. You as the parent can offer a compliment to each of them. Do this in a calm and cheerful way so they witness your positive attention for their good behavior.

If the sibling rivalry is particularly intense, you will probably have to repeat this game several times over a week or so. Stop the action. State your expectations for behavior and play the compliment game. If a child refuses to play or makes fun of the idea, send that child for some quiet time until he can come up with some nice things about his siblings. He may just need some time to settle down after the horsing around.

Talk to your kids about personal space. Make a game of it by giving examples of invading personal space and then how each should respond. Talk about using manners like please and thank you, respecting the toys and personal space in bedrooms of each sibling. Even if siblings share a room, they can each have a personal area that is just theirs.

In order to relate well to others, we also need private time for ourselves. Create that space in your home. This is important for parents, too!

What you may find is that your children will ask to play the compliment game or volunteer compliments when they realize that someone has been upset by their behavior. It will become a great ritual for bringing everyone together and showing mutual respect and love. They can offer compliments to you, too.

How have you helped to improve relationships between your children? How do you give them positive attention?